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Broadcasting Birth Control

Mass Media and Family Planning

Manon Parry

Publication Year: 2013

Traditionally, the history of the birth control movement has been told through the accounts of the leaders, organizations, and legislation that shaped the campaign. Recently, historians have begun examining the cultural work of printed media, including newspapers, magazines, and even novels in fostering support for the cause. Broadcasting Birth Control builds on this new scholarship to explore the films and radio and television broadcasts developed by twentieth-century birth control advocates to promote family planning at home in the United States, and in the expanding international arena of population control.

Mass media, Manon Parry contends, was critical to the birth control movement’s attempts to build support and later to publicize the idea of fertility control and the availability of contraceptive services in the United States and around the world. Though these public efforts in advertising and education were undertaken initially by leading advocates, including Margaret Sanger, increasingly a growing class of public communications experts took on the role, mimicking the efforts of commercial advertisers to promote health and contraception in short plays, cartoons, films, and soap operas. In this way, they made a private subject—fertility control—appropriate for public discussion.

Parry examines these trends to shed light on the contested nature of the motivations of birth control advocates. Acknowledging that supporters of contraception were not always motivated by the best interests of individual women, Parry concludes that family planning advocates were nonetheless convinced of women’s desire for contraception and highly aware of the ethical issues involved in the use of the media to inform and persuade.

Published by: Rutgers University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 1-6

Contents

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pp. 7-8

Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiv

...This book would never have been possible without the generous mentorship of Sonya Michel, who guided me during the development of the original dissertation project. I hope to follow her fine example as a friend and colleague as I move into the next stage of my career. I would also like to thank Elizabeth Fee and Patti Tuohy at the National Library of Medicine...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-11

...which was translated into twenty-three languages and was distributed widely in Asia and Latin America, features Donald Duck at an artist’s easel illustrating the burdens of unlimited reproduction and the technologies of birth control while a narrator describes the benefits of limiting family size. America’s beloved cartoon duck was put to work to promote the use of...

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Battling Silence and Censorship

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pp. 12-44

...Publicity lay at the heart of Margaret Sanger’s approach during the early days of the campaign to legalize birth control. She considered “agitation through violation of the law” the vital first step in a long-term strategy. Despite the Comstock Law of 1873, which banned the dissemination of contraceptive information, manufacturers had continued to advertise methods to prevent and end...

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The Medium Shapes the Message

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pp. 45-75

...At the end of World War II, Planned Parenthood had to redefine its role. Communications experts, who had benefited from the wartime need for propaganda, required a new focus in the postwar period. Experts on public opinion who had specialized in promoting the image of American activities now hoped to find a purpose for mass persuasion in peacetime. In a return to the concerns of an earlier era, demographers, economists, and politicians began...

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“Most of the World’s People Need Planned Parenthood”

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pp. 76-110

...In the early years of the postwar period, U.S. family planning promoters dramatically expanded their activities beyond the borders of their nation.1 Under the threat of a global “population explosion,” their interests began to coalesce with the foreign policy concerns of the U.S. government. As a result, organizations were permitted to promote their cause through federal channels. The government not only opened its airwaves to the issue but also...

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Soap Opera as Soap Box

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pp. 111-128

...In the years after this purported exchange with the giant of North American communications theory, theater director and television producer Miguel Sabido became famous for his prosocial (meaning positive social effects) model of persuasive media communication in entertainment television. As the previous chapters have shown, family planning promoters had long been interested in the possibility of converting their messaging...

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Twenty-­First-­Century Sex

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pp. 129-144

...Thanks to the use of sex in commercial broadcasts, entertainment media has offered a wealth of opportunities to incorporate family planning messaging over the last forty years. In the 1970s, researchers studying television began reporting that the number of references to sex was increasing each year in network programming. In the 1980s, the types of representations...

Notes

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pp. 145-172

Index

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pp. 173-192

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About the Author

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pp. 193-196

...Dr. Parry has curated gallery and online exhibitions on a wide range of topics, as well as traveling exhibitions that have visited more than three hundred venues in the United States, Argentina, Canada, Germany, Turkey, and Guam. An online exhibition accompanying this book that includes examples of family planning media as well as teaching materials for classroom use is available at www .broadcastingbirthcontrol.com....


E-ISBN-13: 9780813561530
E-ISBN-10: 0813561531
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813561523

Page Count: 210
Illustrations:
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Critical Issues in Health and Medicine
Series Editor Byline: Edited by Janet Golden and Rima D. Apple

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Subject Headings

  • Birth control -- Case studies.
  • Communication in family planning -- Case studies.
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